Τα τρία βασικά σημεία που είναι υπό συζήτηση μεταξύ των Τιράνων και Αθήνας, η εμπόλεμη κατάσταση, ο ορισμός του ΑΟΖ και το τσάμικο, παραμένουν στο τραπέζι χωρίς καμία τάση επαφής.
Οι προσπάθειες, πριν από κάποιους μήνες, από το Υπ Εξ κ Κοτζιά έπεσαν στο κενό, εφόσον το βασικό αίτημα της Αλβανικής Κυβέρνησης ήταν η αφαίρεση της εμπόλεμης κατάστασης, πράγμα το οποίο θα μπορούσε να βοηθήσει και το συνασπισμό τσάμηδων και Σοσιαλιστικού Κόμματος.
Σε μια συνέντευξη στο «Albanian Daily News», η Ελληνίδα Πρέσβης στα Τίρανα κ Ελένη Σουράνη έχει επιβεβαιώσει την επίσημη θέση της Ελλάδος για τα παραπάνω θέματα.
«Όσο αφορά τα θαλάσσια σύνορα μεταξύ των δύο χωρών θα ήθελα να επισημάνω πως αυτή δεν είναι μια άλυτη υπόθεση, εφόσον η συμφωνία που υπεγράφη το 2009, συντάχθηκε με προσοχή και βασισμένη σε Συμβάσεις των Ηνωμένων Εθνών όπως και στο νόμο περί Θαλασσών και επίσης εξυπηρετεί τα συμφέροντα των δύο χωρών.
Όσο αφορά το επονομαζόμενο «τσάμικο ζήτημα» σκέφτομαι πως ο κ Κοτζιάς, κατά την επίσκεψη του το περασμένο Ιούνιο, έκανε ξεκάθαρη ανάλυση των στάσεων μας και δεν υπάρχει λόγος να τα επαναλάβω, οι Τσάμηδες της Ελλάδας, ( και πρέπει να του ξεχωρίσουμε από αυτούς της Αλβανίας) άφησαν το τόπο μετά από την γερμανική κατάκτηση, ακολουθώντας τις δυνάμεις κατοχής, υπό το φόβο αντιποίνων ως επακόλουθο της συνεργασίας των αρχηγών τους, με τις δυνάμεις κατοχής. Στο τέλος του πολέμου, τέτοια περιστατικά συνέβησαν σε όλη την Ευρώπη. Ωστόσο επιτρέψτε μου να επισημάνω πως οι πολίτες οποιαδήποτε χώρας διεκδικούν περιουσιακά στοιχεία στην Ελλάδα, μπορούν να τα ζητήσουν όλα αυτά προσφεύγοντας στα ελληνικά δικαστήρια και το ελληνικό δικαστικό σύστημα, που είναι πραγματικά ανεξάρτητο, το οποίο και θα αποφανθεί για κάθε περίπτωση» είπε η κ Σουράνη.
Παίρνοντας αφορμή από αυτό που ο κ Μπουσάτι (Υπ.Εξ Αλβανίας) ή ο πρωθυπουργός κ Ράμα, αυτή η στάση είναι στην πραγματικότητα μια άρνηση της Ελλάδας για να συζητήσει σε πολιτικό επίπεδο τις υποθέσεις που αφορούν, κατά την άποψη της, σε άλλους θεσμούς. Για το ΑΟΖ, που η κ Σουράνη επαναφέρει στο τραπέζι την συμφωνία του 2009, πρέπει ν’ αναφέρουμε πως έχει συζητηθεί σε ομάδες εργασίας κ.α. Η Αλβανική πλευρά πολλές φορές έχει αφήσει να εννοηθεί πως θα πάει την υπόθεση στα Διεθνή Δικαστήρια, αλλά εκεί φαίνεται πως η συμφωνία του 2009 μάλλον θα καταλήξει θετικά υπέρ της Ελλάδας.
Διαβάστε όλη την συνέντευξη στην συνέχεια στα Αγγλικά.
Tri pikat e debatuara mes Tiranës zyrtare dhe Athinës, ligji i luftës, problemi çam dhe delimitimi i zonave detare, mbeten në tryezë pa asnjë moment përafrimi. Demarshet e para disa muajve të ministrit të Jashtëm grek, Nikos Kotzias, përfunduan pa rezultat, sa kohë që kërkesa kryesore e qeverisë shqiptare ishte heqja e ligjit të luftës, e cila mund të jetë edhe në funksion të aleancës së PS-së me PDIU-në.
Në një intervistë për “Albanian Daily News”, ambasadorja e Greqisë në Tiranë, Eleni Sourani ka konfirmuar qëndrimin e Greqisë për këto çështje.
“Lidhur me delmitimin e kufirit detar mes dy vendeve, do të doja të vija në dukje se kjo nuk është një çështje e pazgjidhur, përderisa ka një marrëveshje të nënshkruar në vitin 2009, e cila u hartua me kujdes dhe bazuar në Konventat e OKB-së dhe ligjin e Detit dhe që në vështrimin tonë i shërben interesave të të dyja vendeve.
Mbi të ashtuquajturën çështje “Çame”, mendoj se ministri Kotzias, gjatë vizitës së tij në Tiranë qershorin e kaluar, dha një analizë shumë konkrete të pozicionit tonë dhe nuk ka nevojë ta përsëris. Çamët e Greqisë(dhe duhet t’i ndajmë nga çamët e Shqipërisë) lanë vendin në fund të pushtimit gjerman, duke ndjekur tërheqjen e trupave gjermane, nga frika e raprezaljeve që mund të kishte si pasojë e bashkëpunimit të liderëve të tyre me forcat okupatore...Në fund të luftës, incidente të tilla ndodhën kudo në Europë. Gjithsesi më lejoni të vë në dukje se qytetarët e kujtdo vendi, që kanë pretendime pronësore në Greqi, mund t’i kërkojnë ato duke iu drejtuar gjykatëave greke dhe sistemi gjyqësor grek, me të vërtetë i pavarur, do të prononcohet për çdo rast”, tha Sounari.
Nisur nga ajo që ka ngritur më herët ministri Bushati apo kryeministri Rama, ky qëndrim është në fakt një refuzim i Greqisë për të diskutuar politikisht çështje që sipas saj i takojnë instancave të tjera. Për kufirin detar për të cilën Sounari rihedh në tavolinë marrëveshjen e vitit 2009, duhet thënë se është folur për grupe pune etj.. Pala shqiptare shpesh ka lënë të kuptohet shqyrtimin në Gjykatën Ndërkombëtare, por aty duket se marrëveshja e vitit 2009 peshon në favor të Greqisë.
“There Is Enough Commitment and Good Will in Both Sides to Achieve Progress”
TIRANA – Albania has Her Excellency Ms. Eleni Sourani as the Ambassador of Greece, a seasoned diplomat with 32 years in the Greek diplomatic service, having had the opportunity to serve in four continents and having also held various positions in the Greek Foreign Ministry. Albania is her 7th foreign assignment.
“I feel privileged that I have so many friends around the globe; people of various nationalities and different religious affiliations. Living in various places makes you appreciate the value of humanity, how similar we all are and how beautiful diversity is,” Ambassador Sourani told Albanian Daily News in an exclusive interview on Thursday.
According to her, Greece has been one of the closest allies of Tirana in its 25-year democratic journey. “This has been a strategic choice by Greece since the beginning: we want to contribute in every possible way to the development of Albania into a stable, prosperous and modern European democracy. This is good for Albania but also for Greece,” the Ambassador said, adding that both countries had rejoiced with every positive step taken; and they are saddened with every back-slide.
Her Excellency Ms. Sourani thinks that there is a huge positive agenda with cooperation in all fields between the two countries, but she has been surprised to find out that there is so much misunderstanding about Greece in neighboring Albania.
However she admitted that she fell into the group of diplomats, who try to be pragmatist and see the situation clearly and without preconceived ideas.
“There is no reason to believe that the road map is foundering. On the contrary I believe that there is enough commitment and good will in both sides to achieve progress,” the Greek Ambassador said in the interview that follows:
- Your Excellency, Albanian Daily News staff wishes You successes in Your honorable job as the top diplomat of Greece to Albania, especially at these times. In the first place it would be an honor for the reader of ADN to know at a glance your career before being appointed to Tirana? And secondly, Your Excellency, how do you consider the current state of relations between the two countries as Greece has been considered like one of the closest allies of Tirana in its 25-year journey towards democracy? No one can forget the fact that at the start of the pluralistic changes Greece was the country which became shelter of more than half a million of Albanians making their living there.
- It is definitely a great honor and responsibility to be Greece’s Ambassador in Albania. Our two countries are joined by history and geography and have developed a deep strategic partnership, which is valuable for Greece and Albania and important for the stability of the whole area.
As a career diplomat with 32 years in the Greek diplomatic service, I had the opportunity to serve in four continents and Albania is my 7th foreign assignment; I served in Harare, Zimbabwe, as Consul in Vancouver, Canada, in our Embassy in Yerevan, Armenia, later Consul General in Jerusalem, Deputy Permanent Representative to the OSCE and Ambassador to Denmark. I also held various positions in the Greek Foreign Ministry.
I feel privileged that I have so many friends around the globe; people of various nationalities and different religious affiliations. Living in various places makes you appreciate the value of humanity, how similar we all are and how beautiful diversity is.
I fully agree with your comment that Greece has been one of the closest allies of Tirana in its 25-year democratic journey. This has been a strategic choice by Greece since the beginning: we want to contribute in every possible way to the development of Albania into a stable, prosperous and modern European democracy. This is good for Albania but also for Greece. We have had the privilege to be the first country in the Balkans to join NATO and the EU and to achieve high degrees of development. And it was important for us to share our positive experiences with our neighbors especially in times of transition, which sometimes were very painful. So, we have rejoiced with every positive step taken; and we are saddened with every back-slide.
Concerning the current state of our relations, I believe that there is a huge positive agenda with cooperation in all fields that, sometimes, is buried under obsolete stereotypes and distorted perceptions. I was surprised to find out that in neighboring Albania there is so much misunderstanding about Greece.
- As you have come to Tirana the agenda is highlighted by the main following issues dividing the two nations and I will refer to a commentary of daily Kathimerini which said on August 28, 2016 that they include Albania’s treatment of its ethnic Greek minority, an unresolved maritime dispute and Tirana’s demand for compensation for members of the Cham community who were expelled from Greece in World War II. Greece has long dismissed the demand, claiming that the Chams living in the country were Nazi collaborators. I mentioned Kathimerini as that was the latest public report made worldwide known but these issues as a matter of fact have been raised by the highest Albanians authorities with the last one being the foreign minister, Ditmir Bushati. What can you say on these issues?
- I don’t like commenting on newspapers’ articles. However, it is natural for countries, which are neighbors and partners, to have a long list of issues to be addressed. Most of them are related to bilateral and regional cooperation. This is the positive agenda, which, unfortunately, is not sufficiently known to the Albanian public. But at the same time, there are problems to be solved or disagreements to be ironed out. And before commenting on the above mentioned list, let me add one more highly sensitive issue: the proper burial of the fallen Greek soldiers during the Greco-Italian war of 1940-41. Throughout Europe, there are military cemeteries of allies and enemies, alike, according to the centuries-long tradition to bury the soldiers in the place they fall. It is really incomprehensible that out of all the fallen soldiers of the WWII the only ones still waiting for a resting place are the Greek soldiers who fell on Albanian soil. Their bravery and sacrifice for freedom was saluted, at that time, around the world. I could mention statements of admiration by leaders of Britain, USA, Canada and many others. And 75 years later they are still unburied! This is a shame for every civilized human being.
Now, back to the list: For Greece, the ethnic Greek minority can be a stable and firm bridge of friendship and cooperation between our two countries and we follow closely all issues related to it. But please note that protection of minority rights, i.e. full and unhindered enjoyment of property, educational and religious rights of the minorities, is not just a bilateral issue; it is an international and European obligation.
Concerning the delimitation of the maritime borders between the two neighboring countries, I would like to point out that this is not an unresolved dispute, since there is already an agreement, signed in 2009, which was meticulously drafted and based on the provisions of the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea and which, in our perspective, serves the interests of both countries.
On the so-called Cham issue, I think that Minister Kotzias, during his visit to Tirana last June, provided a very concrete analysis of our position and I don’t need to repeat it in length. The Chams of Greece (and we should distinguish them from the Chams of Albania) left the country at the end of the German occupation, following the retreating German troops, out of fear of reprisals for the cooperation of their leadership with the occupying forces.
At the end of the war, similar incidents happened throughout Europe. In any case, let me just point out that the citizen of any country, who claims property rights in Greece can seek recourse to the Greek courts and the truly independent Greek judiciary will pronounce in each individual case.
- Certainly, Your Excellency, diplomats always try to be the last one to be pessimists but what is your comment on what Kathimerini said and I quote: "The road map agreed last June between Albania and Greece to improve bilateral ties appears to be foundering, according to diplomatic sources in Athens, which warn that if talks do not get under way soon, the plan may unravel."
-I am neither pessimist nor optimist. I try to be pragmatist and see the situation clearly and without preconceived ideas. There is no reason to believe that the road map is foundering. On the contrary I believe that there is enough commitment and good will in both sides to achieve progress.
- Do you think that the alliance of PM Edi Rama with PDIU Cham party will hamper normalization efforts, especially as Albania is to hold general elections next summer?
- As a matter of principle, I do not think that foreign diplomats should make public comments on domestic affairs of the country of accreditation. Each country has the sovereign right to decide its government.
But also other countries have an equal sovereign right to make their assessments on how domestic developments in one country can affect their partnership and cooperation. And I think that in this particular case, the answer to your question is obvious.
- Has this diplomatic standstill affected the economic relations between the two countries as Greece has always been on top of the countries with the highest level of cooperation in different aspects of economy but also culture, education, people-to-people exchanges?
- I wouldn’t call it diplomatic standstill. There is a lot of positive cooperation taking place, but unfortunately, the image is rather distorted. In the economic field, Greece remains number one foreign investor with 26.7% of the Direct Foreign Investments in Albania. Police cooperation against organized crime is also important. In the fields of culture, education and people-to-people exchanges there are numerous projects both bilateral and through the EU. Just to give you an example: On 15th September, in the National Museum I had the pleasure to attend the inauguration of a painting exhibition by Kristo Hasa. The event is co-organized by the Municipality of Ghrams, Kristo’s birthplace, and the Municipality of Ilida, Kristo’s second home. Kristo arrived in Greece as immigrant two decades ago and he is most respected and loved by all in Ilida. What a better bridge of friendship do we need?
- As a media representative I would like to refer to a study which claimed that Albanians and Greeks have created divergency of opinion because of the media. It is claimed that media, which as a matter of fact is mainly controlled by the Albanian government in Tirana, does not serve as a linking bridge. Albanian Daily News does not share this opinion as we have believed that we have played the role of a linking bridge, and that is our unchanged editorial platform. What is your opinion on this, and how do you intend to keep the relations with the Albanian media?
- There is no doubt that the media all over the world play a big role in shaping public opinion. They can give unjustified emphasis on the negative side of matters, they can give a totally distorted description of a situation, they can conceal positive events, they can create stereotypes and, then, we enter into a vicious circle: people are used to consume negative news coming for example from Greece or related to Greece and, subconsciously, they ask for more. World history is full of problems which started through such vicious circles of negative publicity.
Concerning the Albanian press and my country: It is obvious that there is a negative glance on whatever has to do with Greece. The Albanian people are used to read all sorts of distortion against Greece. It is unfair; it is unjustifiable and is obviously harmful in our efforts to make our partnership flourish. I do not refer to any specific media but to the overall ambiance, the focus on the negative –usually false- and never to the positive. Just to give you an example: How many papers or media reported that, in July, Greek fire-fighting airplanes assisted, of course upon request of the Albanian government, in the extinguishing of fires in Albania? There was nothing unusual to it: neighboring countries assist each other in coping with natural disasters. But when the assistance comes from Greece, the media look elsewhere.
- Nevertheless, I personally measure the relations between two neighbors by the people-to people exchanges and both countries are rare examples of the largest level of such exchanges. Do you think that there are two aspects in the relations between Athens and Tirana: the state- to- state relations, I mean politics, and the people- to- people ties, which do not correspond with the former keeping the friendly tempo. Do you think that politics should respond to the wishes of the people especially at these times when Albania is in a difficult economic situation with a lack of investments while Greece is gradually overcoming its very difficult situation?
- At the human level, we have a very valuable, a very special relationship. According to statistics, more than 85% of those Albanians who lived in Greece came back with positive feelings for the country and its people. Despite the difficulties of adaptation of the first years, the integration of the Albanian immigrants in Greece is a success story. They made a huge contribution to the development of Albania and, through the hard and skillful work of the vast majority of Albanian immigrants, they earned a respected place in the Greek society. It seems that there is no Greek family without Albanian friends. So, I am really surprised when I see negative feelings against Greece in Albania.
At the state level, I think that the strategic partnership is recognized. Greece is the only EU country sharing a land border with Albania. This is a factor that can’t be overemphasized: it is vital. Sometimes, domestic politics come in the way, but I truly believe that it would be beneficial for Albania if the Greco-Albanian relations were kept in the proper area of foreign policy and not mixed up with domestic politics.
As far as the economic relations between the two countries are concerned, suffice to say that the remittances of Albanian immigrants and the income generated by the Greek investments correspond to almost 30% of Albania’s GDP. And these figures are relevant today, despite the economic crisis in Greece. The Greek economy has the potential, the infrastructure and the human resources to recover from the problems created mainly by the huge burden of the sovereign (i.e. the state) debt. This is very important for the development of the whole Balkan region, since Greece has been the growth generator of the area, having, even after the crisis, twice the GDP of all other countries together.
-And lastly, might such a negative atmosphere harm Albania's drive towards EU where as it is known Greece has its voice and in the past it has backed strongly Albania. Living examples are the visa liberalization for Albanians and the granting of the EU candidate status by Brussels for Tirana.
- The European integration process is valuable in itself. First, because it has a unique transformation power and is the vehicle for state institution building, rule of law and respect for human rights. Second, because it is an incentive to solve outstanding issues and promote good neighborly relations, which are important part of the Copenhagen criteria. Third, because within the EU there are two fundamental principles of behavior: respect of each other’s sovereign equality and a spirit of compromise. These rules apply to everybody and there are no short-cuts or favors. Within this set of rules, Greece has been an ardent supporter of Albania’s European course and remains so.
But obviously Albania has to do its own part. There should be no doubt that Greece is a sincere and honest friend and partner of Albania and we expect reciprocity.